Three misses: Japanese eats 2

In our quest to find the best Japanese restaurants and take-away shops around Melbourne, we were bound to have a few hits and some misses. The following were some of the places we’ve been to in the past couple of weeks that didn’t exactly meet our expectations.

First up is Iseya at Crown Casino’s food court. We didn’t specifically seek this place out but since we found ourselves at the vicinity during lunch hour last week, we decided to give this place a try. Aside from the croquette (korokke) from the bain-marie, we ordered the Beef Teriyakidon and Chicken Oyakodon.

Hubby had to wait about ten minutes to get our food, which looked like it wasn’t prepared fresh at all. The food look like it has been sitting in a pot all day and was just microwaved. You’d think that they would have at least made sure that the egg on the Oyakodon was partially cooked but it was served to me raw with the lukewarm rice and meat. The croquette was too starchy and only mildly tasted of potato (methinks maybe it has more flour than potato?), the Teriyakidon was too sweet and the Oyakodon was just so-so. Definitely won’t be eating there again.

Next is Teppansan Japanese Cafe (179 Russell Street, Melbourne). We’ve read positive reviews about the tasty Japanese Pizza and everyone who’d previously reviewed it has been amazed at how cheap the food here is. Our lunch-time experience there started well enough, I liked their calligraphy-inspired drawings on the wall and we were served our soup and drinks promptly after sitting. We were given the main menu (which consisted of almost 150 items, including drinks) and the lunch set menu. I ordered the Beef Pizza set with the takoyaki while hubby had the Chicken Pizza set with California rolls. Half an hour later and after watching the people beside us eat, we were still waiting for our food. Hubby asked the waitress about our order and a couple of minutes later was served our pizzas. It took several more prodding from Gj for us to get our spring rolls, California rolls and finally the takoyaki. I think the servers need a reminder that appetizers should come before the mains and not the other way around.

The food was good but nothing spectacular and certainly not authentic (I guess it should be expected when their menu is in Chinese rather than Japanese and their set meals are called bendon instead of bento). The final bill wasn’t so bad ($11.50 each for the set meal plus softdrinks) and would be great for the budget-conscious but the terrible service and lack of attention to detail ruined the experience for us. This could be a good place to dine if they could address their haphazard ordering system (pieces of paper placed everywhere on a table) and hiring more hands during the busy lunch hour would be a good idea as well.

Lastly, there’s Yu-U (137 Flinders Lane, Melbourne). Again, everyone seems to be raving about this difficult-to-find place so we finally booked a table for today. We found their nondescript door easily enough and noticed that a sign posted on the door warned would-be customers that they only serve set meals during lunch time, today it’s pork hamburger with tonkatsu sauce (click on third photo below for a schedule of set meals for this month). We walked down the flight of stairs and were immediately impressed with the simple but elegant interior. The lights were strategically placed and dimmed, creating an intimate atmosphere. We were seated at the bar and immediately served our green tea, with our set lunches arriving soon after. I was about to take a photo of my lunch when the server came up to me and informed me that taking photos is not allowed. I apologised and quickly pocketed my phone, wondering why they don’t put up a “No photography” sign outside if they don’t want guests taking photos. Needless to say, it sort of put me off the dining experience.

The set meal turned out to be cold soba noodles for starters, a small serving of pickled vegetables, tasty broth, steamed rice topped with burger steak in sauce and a small piece of pineapple. The meal was okay but nothing to write home about. We’re not big fans of cold soba noodles so that kind of detracted from the whole meal and the burger steak was average and the BBQ sauce a bit too tangy for my taste. At $15 a pop, this is one of the more expensive lunches we’ve had. Hubby and I agree, this place is way overrated and we probably won’t be dining there again.

Published in: on June 7, 2007 at 1:14 pm  Comments (3)  

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. @Jennie: Hey, would love your okonomiyaki recipe! Now, where do I get my grubby hands on it so that we could try it and stuff ourselves silly? 😀

    @Rick: Haha, another coincidence for us :p Have been trying some new Japanese eateries around the city which had better food and service than Teppansan so I’m guessing we won’t be going back there anytime soon. Maybe next time we go back there they’d have better service too.

  2. Hahah .. we ended up at Teppansan Japanese Cafe last Sunday and were going to tell you guys that it’s a good place for a cheap eat.. guess that during the week it’s too busy!

    Food wasn’t great, but it was a good eat. Lunch cost us $45 for the two of us (included 2 x $7.5 beers, so food @ $15 each)

    I liked the drawings: great to see original art rather than prints, but I went with the ‘bendon’ rather than the pizza. Thanks for explaining the name .. we wondered if some region of Japan called it a Bendon and others called it a Bento.

    Rick Measham

  3. I actually have a recipe for Okonomiyaki if you like. It’s very easy to make. 🙂

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